My camera, on the other hand, was not fine and I have no photos from the outbound leg of the trip. It was, however, exciting to see the bottom end of the Mount Vernon Trail, even if it was clogged with pedestrians. At one point, our fearless leader decided to cross the GW Parkway and ride through wide open neighborhood streets. My heart leapt into my throat and my brain screamed cyclists DIE crossing the GW Parkway!!! Obviously -- I hope it's obvious -- I did not perish while crossing the road nor did any of the other cyclists in our group.
I did nearly kick the bucket while climbing one of the hills through the neighborhood. I have no idea what street we were on and was completely lost, but I did not get off my bike to push. I used the granniest of granny gears, stopped halfway up the hill to gulp air and keep my heart from exploding, and finally made it to the top where the group had patiently waited for me. We eventually returned to the trail and our fearless leader warned us about the hills and switchbacks and blind corners ahead. He told us all it was good gearing practice. I dead-panned, "I didn't know there was going to be a test on this ride."
We survived the switchbacks, and thank goodness for his warning! If I'd been flying along that end of the trail by myself, I would have most likely sailed off of the trail and into the woods faaaaar below. After climbing and climbing and climbing, we finally made it to the end of the trail and the parking lot of Mount Vernon. I was the only one who hadn't seen the grounds and everybody else had to get back home for some reason or another and we parted ways. I didn't actually tour the grounds as I'd forgotten my lock and I didn't feel like renting one. After a quick lunch of a banana and a Honey Stinger Waffle, I turned my bike around and headed back north.
To be continued...